Genre

Heart ColoursWhen I wrote my first ever novel, I had no idea how important it was to know which genre my book fitted into. Agents cannot pitch a book to publishers unless the book fits into one of the publishers’ established lists. The agents are, therefore, more likely than ever to stick your manuscript straight onto the scrap heap.

During the process of researching agents, I realised that my novel fitted snugly into ‘contemporary romance – commercial women’s fiction’.  Phew!

 

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Edit! Edit! Edit!

writers block newFor me, there are two parts to this.

Part I

I try not to edit as I go along because, not only does it block my creative flow, but it ruins my confidence. It is easy to get immersed trying to perfect one irritating paragraph instead of forging on with the actual story, particularly at the times when inspiration is hard to find.

Continue reading Edit! Edit! Edit!

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Feedback

Feedback Colour moreThere is no other way of putting this: it is incredibly scary, but invaluable. I asked for feedback from a few friends who read romances and from my writers’ group, who didn’t. It was largely an uncomfortable process, but I learned a huge amount from going through it; my novel has benefited indescribably. Continue reading Feedback

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Excel works for me!

excel colourI create an Excel Spreadsheet so I can record a brief summary of each chapter as I go along. It is an invaluable memory-jogging tool which I frequently draw on. Trying to do this in hindsight is far more time-consuming. I also make a note of the number of words in each chapter to give me an idea of the running total. I’ve been meaning to buy Scrivener, which some members of my writing group swear by, but this is still on my ‘to do’ list . . .

Sometimes I keep a timeline so I know exactly when each event happens. This helps continuity.

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Background and Consistency

girl colourNext, the characters. I draw on many different sources: people I have seen or met in passing, or know or have known, or have watched on TV. Or I think of characteristics which would make my protagonist interesting. My inspiration comes from many areas.

I write a full biography of each of the main characters, including:boy

  • physical description
  • characteristics
  • background, including family (where necessary)
  • job(s)/career(s)
  • date of birth
  • anything else which is pivotal to the story
  • as I am a visual person, I browse the internet to find a photo which most represents each character so I can picture them. This also joins their biography.
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Does it always flow?

flow colourDo I love writing? The answer is: sometimes. When it flows, it feels as if I am a bird of prey being whisked effortlessly along by the ebb and flow of the breeze. It feels magical. But equally there are days when it feels as if each word is being forced through a minute gap and when it finally spurts out onto the page, it seems, at the time, awkward and all wrong.

But I have learned to just keep on writing anyway. And strangely, some of my best writing has occurred during those ‘force through a small gap’ moments.

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Write what you know?

light bulb colourSo, I start with an idea. For example: Swiss hotel, waitress, guest and a blossoming romance (as in ‘Never Again’).

I often hear the advice ‘write what you know’. I spent a couple of summers in my twenties working in hotels in Switzerland and Germany. Whilst the romance in my debut novel ‘Never Again’ isn’t, sadly, based on anything I experienced myself, the Swiss Alps provided a perfect setting for my novel. Nostalgically, my grandparents met in the same mountain village where I worked and my parents spent their last holiday there a few months before my dad died: special memories.

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Structured Outline . . . I wish!

logoI would love, love, love to be the type of writer who meticulously plans their novel from start to finish, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. It would make the whole writing process neater, more structured and left less to chance. And I can tell you, I have tried and failed at this method countless times. What happens when I sit down to plan is that my mind, infuriatingly, goes as blank as the sheet of paper or Word document in front of me. The more I rack my brains for inspiration, the emptier brain becomes.

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